Task: Develop High Level Plan
Develop High Level Plan
Disciplines: Project Management


To begin defining the overall parameters of the project.


RolesPrimary Performer: Additional Performers:
  • None

      Main Description

      This process is shaped by the development of the Project High Level Plan. The High Level Plan is comprised of the business case, cost/benefit analysis, risk identification, Financial Summary Forecast, High Level Workplan, milestones and the Staffing Profile estimates. The High Level Plan is an overview of the project and will serve as the foundation for all future efforts. All of the estimates completed for this task should be plus or minus 50%. All of the documentation completed for this task will reside in the PPM Tool.


      Develop the Business Case

      The high level plan starts with the Business Case that introduces the project by giving an overview of the project with a brief background as to how it came about. This should include a further refinement of the business need that was originally defined in the Project Charter and Project Request Form. It includes the problem statement, risks and constraints, project background information, project financial information including a cost/benefit analysis, exceptions to the enterprise architecture that should be considered, alternatives that are being reviewed for the solution, how the project fits within the state and agency scope, and the technology that the project is going to replace.


      The Business Case is further refined again during the planning phase, to include more detail and specifics. Additional meetings with the Stakeholders may be required to acquire all of the information.


      This part of the High Level plan is not required to utilize the standard business case document, but the project or program manager must be aware of the items that would be defined in the document.

      Develop the High-Level Schedule

      A project schedule or workplan is a calendar-based representation of work that will be accomplished during a project. Developing a schedule means determining the start and end dates for all tasks required to produce the projects product. The High Level Schedule should include key deliverables and milestones.


      At this early stage in the lifecycle, information required to complete a project schedule is known only at an overview level, often based solely upon the expert judgment of the Project Manager or other individuals with experience managing projects with similar lifecycles. Even at a high level, this information still provides insight into preparing the first draft of a Project Schedule. The activities documented in the schedule at this early stage will be further broken down during Project Planning (Detail Level), when the schedule will be refined to include the specific individuals assigned and the amount of time required to complete the work.


      A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a very useful work product that a Project Manager should create to facilitate development of a Project Schedule. A WBS is a graphical representation of the hierarchy of project deliverables and their associated tasks. As opposed to a Project Schedule that is calendar-based, a WBS is deliverable-based, and written in business terms. All tasks depicted are those focused on completion of deliverables. There are no dates or effort estimates in a WBS. Using a WBS, Project Team members are better equipped to estimate the level of effort required to complete tasks, and are able to quickly understand how their work fits into the overall project structure.


      In Project Planning (High Level), the information required to produce a complete WBS representing the entire project will not be known in sufficient detail. There will be enough information, however, to enumerate the tasks required to produce the High-Level Schedule. The WBS is not static - the Project Manager should work with the Project Team throughout the project lifecycle to refine the WBS and use it as input to refining the Project Schedule.


      PPM Tool Instructions: Create your workplan in the PPM Tool, identifying your high level task timeframes, roles, and your milestones.

      Identify Needed Roles

      Utilizing the WBS created in schedule development, identify the skill sets that will be needed for the project. Determine whether they will be internal or external staff. This will affect the budget of the project as well as the timeline.


      PPM Tool: Create your staffing profile in the PPM Tool for the Internal Staff, requesting the roles that you will need with the time frames required. External staffing needs will need to be estimated by month and input into the Financial Summary as External Labor costs (see Establish Costs below). Note: Internal Labor is calculated at a flat $50 per hour.

      Establish Costs

      Utilizing the available information, calculate the preliminary budget that will be required to complete the project activities. All aspects of the project, including external labor, equipment, travel, materials, supplies, etc., should be incorporated. At this point information will be presented at a summary level, to be refined during the Planning Phase, as more detailed information becomes known.

      PPM Tool: Create your Financial Summary, creating cost lines for each cost category. You will NOT need to create an internal labor category, as it will be calculated for you from your Staffing Profile estimates.

      Identify Initial Risks and Issues; Complete Risk and Value Scoring

      Identifying the risks, issues and constraints is important early in the project. This provides the executive sponsor, sponsors and/or project director an understanding of what can go wrong and if they need to have a contingency strategy. Throughout the duration of the project, risks must continue to be identified in order to minimize their potential impacts on the project.

      PPM Tool: Create your issues and risks from your Project Summary Tab within the tool. You will also need to complete the Value and Risk sections of the Project Details Tab.

      Create CBA

      The Cost Benefit Analysis document is an Excel spreadsheet template that identifies the 6-year costs and benefits for a project. This document needs to be filled out and uploaded to the PPM Tool.

      Product High Level Plan Work Products

      The High Level Plan is a collection of information used to describe the environment that will govern the project and set the overall parameters of the project. The high level plan will consist of the following work products:

      • Business Case (Word Document)
      • CBA (Excel Spreadsheet)
      • Risk Questionnaire (Project Details Page)
      • Value Questionnaire (Project Details Page)
      • High Level Milestones (Workplan)
      • Staffing Needs and Costs (Staffing Profile)
      • Estimated Costs (Financial Summary)
      Submit High Level Plan For Review

      Once you have completed updating the PPM Tool with your high level plan, click the Complete button to indicate your High Level Plan is ready for review. In the Notes section, indicate the urgency of getting the plan approved so the Portfolio Administrator will know if to place it on the next IT Governance Board agenda or send the project out for email approval.

      Approve High Level Plan

      All High Level Plans are reviewed by their respective IT Governance Board. The Portfolio Administrator will place the project on the next IT Governance Board meeting, unless the next meeting timeframe would impede progress of the project - then the Portfolio Administrator will send the High Level Plan, extracted from the PPM Tool, to the respective Governance Board Meetings for review and approval via email. If the approval is received, the Portfolio Administrator will select the Approve button and indicate in the Notes box, how many Governance Board members approved the request and the date.


      None – This is a required step for all projects over $15,000.

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